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Ten Great Summer Date Ideas

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Renaissance Festival costumes!I love the summer.

Some people like the winter, where you can snuggle up under a blanket by the fire or build a snow fort and toss snowballs. Me? I like the summer where you can watch movies outside or go on a hike, just breathe in that fresh summer air. I don’t mind it so much when it’s hot either, the heat and the perspiration makes me feel alive, productive.

So now that it’s summer, why not list a bunch of great frugal summer date ideas?

  1. Go to a state fair or Renaissance faire: Ever late-summer and fall, there’s a Renaissance Festival in Crownsville, Maryland that we like to go to. We enjoy walking around the wilderness, eating food on sticks and turkey legs, and otherwise enjoy ourselves. It’s usually pretty inexpensive and you can spend a whole day there marveling at the costumes. :)
  2. Check your local paper for events: Your local newspaper usually has a listing of all the fun events going on in your county. We can pick up a local events calendar at our library that will tell us what’s going on throughout the county. Many of those events are free or pretty close to being free.
  3. Visit farmers markets: Part of the fun of farmers market is walking around the stalls and talking to all the vendors. Learn about where their farms are, how they make their jams or pies, and you end up buying some wonderful goodies you can cook with at home.
  4. Go to baseball games: Baseball games are always a lot of fun and many parks let you bring in your own snacks and sealed drinks. At Camden Yards, we’re allowed to bring in sealed sodas and all the peanuts and cracker jacks we want. Even if you can’t, there are going to be plenty of vendors outside selling hot dogs, brauts, and all manner of grilled foods. Major league games often have cheap tickets or you could hit up a local AAA team, I heard those games are a blast.
  5. Go on a hike: Hikes are great, you can learn all about them from the U.S. National Park Service’s Find a Park search tool. You can bring a lunch too and turn it into an impromptu picnic at a scenic spot. Just remember to bring lots of water and a map!
  6. Watch movies in the park: Unfortunately, not everyone has this but you’ll know if it’s available if you check your local events calendar. The movies won’t be new releases and they’ll probably just be classics, but it’s a fun time out in the park. Remember to bring snacks, drinks, a blanket and perhaps some bug spray too.
  7. Walk around old neighborhoods: We live near Ellicott City, which has a “old town” portion that you can walk along. They even have ghost tours! We sometimes enjoy walking along the main street, window shopping and stopping in for some homemade ice cream.
  8. Go to cool open houses: Ellicott City also has a lot of older unique homes, so going to open houses can be a lot of fun too. We attended an open house for a home that was once used as a chapel, where all three floors had ground floor access. It was a beautiful home and a treat to look around in.
  9. Go to the beach: Beaches are usually free, so all it costs for a fun time at the beach is some gas and some sun screen! We don’t go to the beach much because we don’t like sitting around, but when we do we make sure to bring games like bocce ball.
  10. Go camping: Camping is fun as long as the weather isn’t too terribly hot, otherwise it can be difficult to fall asleep at night. We tend to go camping during the Spring and Fall months, when the weather is more temperate. Camping can be very inexpensive if you have the gear, otherwise a tent and such may run you some cash.

Those were on the first ten I mustered, I’m sure you guys can do better! What are your favorite frugal summer date ideas?

(Photo: clevergrrl)

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14 Responses to “Ten Great Summer Date Ideas”

  1. Nice list Jim. Hiking isn’t just for summer, I like fall and winter hikes– you should try it!

  2. There are often various summer related festivals charging nothing to get in. They’re usually commercially driven (merchants peddling their wares), but you can often find great food for not a lot of money, plus free entertainment by specialty and upstart bands.

    We went to one a couple of years ago, where a pair of unknowns were performing Celtic music that was quite good, so we purchased a CD and still listen to it now.

  3. Abby says:

    Thanks for this! I work for a small city, and the number of things we offer our residents for free is amazing. The one biggie is free music – you can easily catch a free performance at least once a week, probably within a few blocks of your home ’round here. If you’re willing to go a little farther afield, I’ve no doubt that you could catch live music just about every night of the week.

    The other thing I wanted to mention was bicycling. I know bikes aren’t free, but the next town over has a co-op where you can learn to fix up a bike that needs work – meaning you can probably patch together a decent ride, over time, for a fraction of the cost of a new one. We’re lucky enough to have bikes in good working order, and it is hard to beat the thrill of an early morning bike ride.

    • Jim says:

      That’s a great tip, free music is always a great perk. We’ve been traveling a lot in Europe lately and it seems like every pub has free live music.

  4. lostAnnfound says:

    We’re going camping this weekend, leaving on Thursday. We have had a trailer for the past 7 years, although before that we tented for many years. Tenting was fun & we have some great memories (like the time that big storm came through and pulled all the stakes out of the ground, cooking over an open fire in the pouring rain while someone held an umbrella over the fire pit, tubing down the river, fishing off the bridge, etc). We still do all these things, just with a little more comfort and a bit less packing since everything we need (except for food & clothes) is kept in the camper. Also with the camper we usually start going on during kids’ spring break (mid April) until the weekend after Columbus Day. A lot of great family time & good times with friends also.

  5. Green_Panda says:

    Small world, I used to live over by Crownsville, MD in Crofton.

    We’re a big fan of day trips to lakes and parks. Lake Waccamaw in NC is a nice place to decompress.

  6. Just went to the Renaissance Festival in Sterling, New York this weekend. It was sort of a date – I took my mom for her birthday! (And a group of friends tagged along.) When all was said and done I spent a good chunk of change, but it’s something we do every year, so I always plan for it.

    I guess when I’m living in Virginia, we’ll have to check out your Ren fest in Maryland! :)

    • Jim says:

      That is one hiccup with Rennfests, when you get there the food and drink is often pricey, like at movie theaters (maybe not that bad) but if you avoid the eating it’s practically free (if you have the costumes already!).

  7. eric says:

    I’m a summer person too!

  8. Scott says:

    Jim, an idea for you since you’re near it would be seeing a play outdoors at Wolftrap National Park near Vienna, VA. You can buy lawn tickets and then do a picnic dinner. We did it two weekends ago with our family and it was pretty sweet. We rolled in a huge cooler with all sorts of goodies from Trader Joe’s. Just make sure if you do lawn tickets to get there right when the gates open – good lawn spots go fast!

  9. Shitty Truth says:

    Unfortunately, keeping a woman around would probably work out if I took her out to do things that you talk about in your post. Camping, hiking, renaissance fairs… I’ve always been too lazy to actually go out and do these things. Maybe that’s the problem…. who the hell knows?

  10. Joyful Abode says:

    Geocaching! I am surprised no one else mentioned it.


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